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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AND    HUMAN    RELATIONS

interest—when we have the good fortune to know that
it is an enemy nation, a hostile party, or a business rival
that commits the crime. When life is so complicated a&
this, and the historian himself is in the arena—subject
to aberrations much more serious than mere intellectual
errors—moral judgments are a loophole for every abuse
in historical • study. The very dispenser of moral
judgments is himself caught in the net—beat upon by
die self-same forces that he pretends to survey from.die
point of view of sovereign mind*

It may be objected that the problem of moral judgments
is of minor significance, since the historian, without
stepping a foot beyond the frontiers of his science, is in
a position to cover the requirements of the case. It is
his function to describe faithfully the men of the past;
and if a politician is regularly drunk or beats his wife or
makes money by revealing Cabinet secrets, these very
tangible points, which are controllable through specific
kinds of evidence, will become part of the description of
the personality. Even at a further remove, if a man is
delineated as weak in character, or as subject to violent
moods, or as having become hardened during his tenure
of power, all this, though it is purely descriptive and
avoids the pitfalls of moral judgment, leaves us without
illusions on the subject of the person in question. Since
the historian in his capacity as detective can prove that
a man has lied with considerable regularity, what does

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